Manatee County may restrict panhandling
Rick "Tennessee" Mantooth, 51, stands along State Road 64 in Bradenton with a sign asking for work. "They yell at me, 'Get a job.'
Why do they think I'm holding the sign?" he said.
Photo by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
After nearly a year of legal fine-tuning, the Manatee County Commission will soon wade back into the thorny legal issue of restricting panhandling.
Commissioner Ron Getman has been meeting privately with law enforcement officials and local and state attorneys to create an ordinance that would limit, if not ban, non-charitable panhandling in the county.
Such restrictions are legally tricky and commonly face court challenges, many successful, from homeless advocates. Critics say the laws are often too broad and are enforced unevenly. They also argue that a begging ban may infringe on a person's First Amendment rights.
Like other restrictions on the homeless, they tend to only shift the problem elsewhere, said Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "Rather than arresting people on street corners, maybe we should ask why people are panhandling," Stoops said.
Read the Sarasota Herald-Tribune article here.